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Phased return after sickness

(34 Posts)
Knottingley Fri 17-Jan-14 17:53:13

A (f-t) colleague has had 6mths off sick on full pay (in line with policy)

She was due to go onto half-pay for a further 6 months from Monday but we have now had a "fit certificate" saying she is Ok to return on a phased basis, with much reduced hours for 3 months. 1 hour alternate days to begin with building up to a max of 5 hours per day over the 3 months.

I know what will happen with regard to her pay but I wonder what she's expecting. i.e I'm wondering how big an issue it's going to be when I tell her! What would you expect?

HermioneWeasley Fri 17-Jan-14 17:55:26

My rule of thumb has been that if you can't get back to your normal hours within 8 weeks of a phased return, then you're starting back too soon

One hour alternate days is ridiculous.

Presumably she thinks that by coming back she'll get full pay despite not actually working.

If I were the employer I would refuse to accomodate this phased return

Kundry Fri 17-Jan-14 18:06:43

Do you have a HR or ideally Occ Health department? Although her GP has given her this fit note, it's up to you the employer to agree the phased return. If you think one hour alt days is pointless then you don't have to agree to it. Ideally you can get your own Occ Health review at this point as her GP doesn't work for you and is not a expert in how health affects work.

If you don't agree, I wouldn't be surprised if she could suddenly manage more hours so as not to lose her full pay.

Also here, employer can insist on a phased return but the phasing uses up your annual leave, it isn't just work time where you don't work. If you choose to accommodate her, you may only feel like paying her for what she does. She may also not find this appealing. 8 weeks of phased return is plenty and at the end of it, I'd expect you to be working your normal job.

Knottingley Fri 17-Jan-14 18:07:44

The advice we've had is that we can't refuse?

It wrangles a bit TBH because I know she wanted to go p-t before she was ill but couldn't afford to/didn't want to take the pay cut. That said she has genuinely been very ill.

HermioneWeasley Fri 17-Jan-14 20:27:54

Who has advised you?

Knottingley Fri 17-Jan-14 20:29:56

HR dept of the LA I work for!

Kundry Fri 17-Jan-14 20:32:39

Well if you work for an LA, they must commission Occ Health. Refer her to them and then follow their advice.

Knottingley Fri 17-Jan-14 20:35:47

Yes, their advice is that she returns on the phased return Dr has suggested, which is what we will do.

My question was, in her place, what would you expect to happen re your pay?

MrsBungle Fri 17-Jan-14 20:36:20

I work in hr for an la. We'd never sanction this, totally unreasonable. I agree with hermione that if someone is not fit to return to full duties (with any reasonable adjustments) within 8 weeks, they are clearly not fit to return.

An la would usually have an occ health service, the employee needs a referral to there for medical advice.

MrsBungle Fri 17-Jan-14 20:38:09

Wow. I've never come across this type of advice from an occ health dept.

I've no idea what she will expect. I would advise you talk to her about her return and yours and hers expectations.

HermioneWeasley Fri 17-Jan-14 20:39:53

LA - so tax payers' money is funding this nonsense? Marvellous.

The HR dept are wrong.

As to your original question, would I expect to be paid full time for this? No, but I wouldn't ask my Dr to out in such a cheeky request. I'm sure the LA will have some rules about it.

addictedtosugar Fri 17-Jan-14 20:44:05

I've never managed anyone who has been off long enough for our company sick pay to run out, so they have always returned on full pay, so before I read your comments, I'd say full pay BUT the phasing is ridiculous. I've never known less than half a day after the first week - otherwise I think your really not fit to return. Frankly having someone 1 hr per day would cause more disruption than generate useful work. I suspect she will be expecting full pay, and you'll be paying for hours worked??? The reality needs to be explained very carefully before her first pay packet arrives.

Gorja Fri 17-Jan-14 20:45:34

I returned after twelve months off (at full pay)

I did a phased return over twelve weeks starting very slowly. For this I continued to get full pay and continued to accrue annual leave.

I would base my expectations on this tbh.

Kundry Fri 17-Jan-14 20:53:28

Occ Health came up with this?! What reasons did they give? Did she see a doctor or a nurse advisor - our doctor (and friends who are occ health drs) would never come up with this without giving you an exceptional reason.

You can always tell them what your problem is and ask them why such a slow return is necessary as it's useless to you.

Knottingley Sat 18-Jan-14 07:50:06

Her doctor came up with it and Occ Health say we should accommodate it.

Actually from my POV the slower the better. The temp who's been covering her is excellent and FTB we can have them both! I'm afraid she was always on the lazy side and had loads of time off, long before she was ill. Just managed to do enough not to be bad enough to discipline iyswim but always the bare minimum.

Gorja, I'm concerned that will be what she's expecting, your employers were very generous? She'll get half pay for the hours she's not working and I'm worried she'll think that's very unfair and that she'll have a willing and supportive audience among some of the other staff. (there is definitely a "militant" element. I think that's usual in LAs?)

That makes me sound awful and like I said she has been very ill. However her work ethic over the years before she was ill and the way the atmosphere and smooth running of the place has improved while she's been off makes it hard makes it hard to be excited about her return, although I am very gald her health is improving. We're currently trying to find a way of keeping the temp and have offered the returner PT hours permanently (which she has said often is what she would like) but she won't make a decision while she can be paid for hours she's not working. In the meantime, the temp is naturally open to other offers as she has no security.

Mikkii Sat 18-Jan-14 08:04:14

I work in the private sector and my employer would not be this accommodating.

Under my contract I am entitled to 3 months of paid sick leave, after that my employer can transfer me to SSP.

Having said that, I had serious complications during my last 2 pregnancies. With DD1 the midwives decided I could have some work to do from my bed to keep me sane. My employer could have made me start my Maternity leave early, but we had 2 other managers out of 3 off sick, so 2-3 hours a day really helped them out.

With DD2 I was admitted at 24 weeks and told I couldn't work again. The doctors agreed I could take 2 weeks off, then go back. I ended up working part time from home (or the hospital during 6 admissions), generally about 3 hours a day, instead of 7.5 but for most of this time I could have done nothing and been paid in full.

wannabestressfree Sat 18-Jan-14 08:18:57

I work as a teacher. I had three months off after extensive bowel surgery and did phased return but it was mornings every other day first week and built up over six weeks to full time.
I got full pay.

HaitchJay Sat 18-Jan-14 08:33:37

I've been off for 14 months (sick-maternity-sick) and am returning soon. Plan suggested by GP& OH is over about 5 weeks. I will be on full pay but only because I've not reached the half pay trigger point yet.

PaperBagPrincess Sat 18-Jan-14 08:39:15

You cant base your response to a phased return to work after a serious illness on her 'laziness' and incompetence before she got ill. If you failed to manage your staff and get the best out of your team, that is really your own failing. Using her illness as a way to punish her for past poor performance is piss poor.

That said, this doesnt sound like a reasonable or practical phased return. I would go back to your HR dept and ask them to clarify your position.

addictedtosugar Sat 18-Jan-14 08:50:36

So, she's getting half pay, as per the sick pay policy, and in week one, where she works 3 hrs, she'll get 3 hrs topped up to full pay? When shes working 5hrs/day shes get that at full pay, and the other 2.5ish hrs a day at half rates?

Sound reasonable, but will need explaining to her.

Kundry Sat 18-Jan-14 09:50:59

So you have two options - tell her what she's going to be paid and stick with her timetable or challenge the timetable. The first sounds much easier.

Occ Health advice does sound odd here and I wonder what your department consists of - many companies will buy Occ health on the cheap as a proper consultant is expensive. Rubber stamping her GP's suggestion, which in all honesty was probably her suggestion, is not what a true Occ Health consultant would do.

I sounds like it will be v hard for her coming back as there will be someone in post essentially doing her job, better than she did it, and well liked by all her colleagues. She may well ultimately choose not to stay but it will be important for you to make sure she is well managed during and immediately after her return.

Mycatistoosexy Sat 18-Jan-14 09:57:57

Have you scheduled any back to work reviews with her? Her fit note is her medical advise so you need to understand that her doing more at your insistence could leave you open to tribunal action if she is to suffer further detriment to her health as a consequence.

If her phased return is unacceptable to you on te grounds of business needs then this needs to be discussed and alternative duties/medical termination needs to be looked t. However I think that this would be unlikely to work as he has given a return to full duty date and an tribunal judge would be unimpressed if you had scant proof that you were unable to accommodate that.

Gorja Sat 18-Jan-14 11:13:57

I work for the nhs so pretty standard policies across the board.

When I have previously managed phased returns it has always been at full pay once the phased return starts. I would be expecting full pay once the phased return starts.

HermioneWeasley Sat 18-Jan-14 11:17:05

Mycat - I sit on employment tribunals. I cannot think of any of my colleagues who would think that was a reasonable return to work plan.

I cannot believe the NHS policies, very generous.

Mycatistoosexy Sat 18-Jan-14 12:40:10

I find it odd to assume that the NHS has been very generous when you have no clue as to get condition or past history. The GP must have suggested such a gradual return for some reason. Probably as stated that the lady has been very ill.

Obviously there would need to be a review before she can resume and there should be a two-way discussion. However you can't say no to GP's advice because she was deemed to be lazy.

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